Wholesale and distribution software

Supply chain basics

Wholesalers and distributors keep track of products purchased from suppliers and sold to customers. The top level concepts involved are suppliers, purchases, shipments, locations, transfers, products, stock items, sales, quotes, invoices, packing, and customers. Reading left-to-right, you can follow the path from which products are purchased from suppliers and received through shipments to the company’s locations. Once received, the products are considered stock items that can be transferred from one of the company’s locations to another. The products leave the company through sales to customers, a process that often includes picking the products from their locations and packing the products into cases or other handling units before shipping them in one or more shipments associated with the order to the customer. The sale may originate as a quote for the customer, and may generate an invoice as a basis for payment.

Inlined image: wholesale-inventory-management-block-diagram-2.gif

Instead of keeping stock on hand and replenishing it when stock levels reach reorder points, some businesses run the process in the other direction. Beginning with a customer’s placing an order, the company creates purchase orders to acquire the products or parts to be sold. If the nature of the business is that the company assembles or combines products from its suppliers to fulfill the order to the customer, the company may have its suppliers ship the constituent parts directly to the customer’s job site, to be received by a technician and assembled right there at the customer’s location without ever passing through the company warehouse.

Stock tracking

 

Stock tracking focuses on details of the stock item in the block diagram above.

Inlined image: stock-block-diagram.gif

Stock is stored in warehouses or other specific locations, and within those warehouses in bays, or aisles or bins. Keeping track of stock levels entails keeping track of quantities per location and sub-location. Items may be stored individually or packed into cases or handling units. Sometimes stock of the same product is packed in cases of different quantities, which entails keeping track not just of individuals versus packed items, but of which packing.

Some types of products have expiry dates, or serial numbers, or other properties identified by lot or batch. Thus stock may not just be quantities of a particular product, but of a particular lot.

Stock control software

 

All these details notwithstanding, it remains the case that many small businesses in wholesale and distribution have needs that are closer to the simplified drawing at the top of this section. If your business just keeps track of quantities of product in one or more locations, the task of inventory management is conceptually straight forward and your inventory management software shouldn’t burden you with details that you don’t care about.


Examples from Finale Inventory

Here are a few example videos of using Finale Inventory.


Receiving a shipments with a barcode scanner

 


Case packing


Setting min / max stock threshold for reordering